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Prime Minister Janez Janša in Versailles: In Ukraine, they are also fighting for Europe

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janez Janša is today attending an informal European Council meeting in Versailles, France. At the meeting, EU leaders will discuss Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and its consequences and how to strengthen European sovereignty, reduce dependencies, and design a new growth and investment model.

In a press statement upon his arrival at the meeting, the Prime Minister spoke about some of the important themes of the meeting, saying that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine could be seen as a series of crimes against humanity.

"The European Union today faces two important decisions. The first is to exclude Russian energy products from the EU as soon as possible. We advocate the commitment that this should be done as soon as possible.  Talking about this happening in ten years’ time is an insult to those who are dying in the war. This is not an easy step, but if the EU comes together, if we join forces, we have some reserves for turbulent times, and then it is possible to do it in real time, at a time when it may still have an impact on Russia’s position on Ukraine," he stressed. Equally important, he said, is the prospect of Ukraine’s EU membership. "Here again, we are against talking about years; if we talk about it in ten years’ time, it means nothing to the Ukrainians," said the Prime Minister, adding that Ukraine should be guaranteed EU membership in a similar way "as we committed to in Thessaloniki in 2003 for the countries of the Western Balkans, and that we will do everything in our power to make this happen as soon as possible", and that these are the two most important decisions to be taken today.

"The Versailles Declaration is a powerful document that actually sets the political framework for real strategic autonomy for the EU, not only in energy but also in food security and other things, including in the field of defence. It is in this field that this is a very powerful document. There are few meetings of such importance and few political documents of such importance that have been on the agenda of an EU summit to date, even if it is an informal meeting," said the Prime Minister. He added that there are several drafts of this declaration at the moment. "Things are changing all the time. What is in the draft is a great improvement on the position two weeks ago whether this should be mentioned at all. Some said that we do not even know if Ukraine will exist in two weeks’ time. Ukraine exists, is defending itself and needs our help," said the Prime Minister. "Today we have spoken with most of the presidents of the Ukrainian parliamentary parties, and I have not seen such unity, not only in Ukraine, but anywhere in the world and in Europe, in 20 years," said Prime Minister Janša. "So they are united, not only the nation is united, but the politics is also united, and Ukraine will withstand. But we must help them so that they do not pay such a high price in casualties and destruction," stressed the Prime Minister, adding that he hopes that this EU summit will be on a par with the times, which have changed drastically over the last two weeks.

On the rise in food prices, the Prime Minister said that this was only partly due to the war and partly due to the rise in energy prices, which was already happening before the Russian aggression against Ukraine. "However, it is important to remember that, according to the latest data, the EU Common Agricultural Policy has ensured that Europe has achieved 80% self-sufficiency, which means that we may run out of something, but we will not go hungry," said the Prime Minister. He said that Slovenia had also made a great effort in this direction recently and that we also had supplies covered by our commodity reserves for these turbulent times, so "we will not go hungry". "However, these developments are, of course, a reminder that the sun will not always shine, that agriculture must be given due attention, that there will be times when imports will not be possible and that what you produce at home is also what is available," he added.

Along with the imposition of sanctions against Russia, there is also an intense debate on compensating for the damage suffered by the EU Member States. Answering the question of what the interests of Slovenia in this debate are, the Prime Minister mentioned that regarding Slovenian companies, the Ministry of the Economy had been working on solutions for some time and was also in constant contact with individual companies that were affected. “However, in connection with the European level and the threats coming from the of Russian oligarchs or Russian state institutions should be transferred and with which the damage should be simply compensated. I regret that things have gone so far, but the side which started this aggression must realise that actions have consequences," said the Prime Minister.

Regarding the actual damage that Slovenia is facing, the Prime Minister noted that the Russian Federation was not a strategic economic partner of Slovenia. "I believe that there are at least 20 smaller countries with which we have greater trade in goods, but the loss of each market is something that is unnecessary and we hope that the Russian nation, which has made a great contribution to European civilisation throughout its history, will be able to gather the strength to elect leaders who will not endanger others," the Prime Minister pointed out.

"Yesterday we watched the Ukrainian symphony orchestra playing the European anthem in the middle of the war in the central square in Kiev. European flags are hanging on a number of buildings which are being bombarded by the Russian army — Ukraine is also fighting for Europe. Former Ukrainian President Poroshenko, to whom we also spoke today and who is a political opponent of the current President Zelenskyy, 100% supported the latter. He also mentioned that, at the moment, the Ukrainian pilot in an old Mig 29 is doing more to defend European democracy than ten most modern F-16 or Euro Fighters. The consequences of what will happen in Ukraine in one or the other direction will mark the EU and probably the whole world in the coming years or decades," said the Prime Minister on the importance of Ukraine’s European perspective.

Last but not least, he mentioned that the Australian Prime Minister had called him the day before and said that while they were very far from what was happening, they were following it very closely, since China’s actions in the Pacific depend on this. "In some way, the more or less peaceful atmosphere of the global world in the coming decade is being decided here," concluded Prime Minister Janša.